TABLE OF CONTENTS
RG 069:148, John J. McMahon Papers
Finding aid prepared by Allen Ramsey.
Copyright © 2010 by the Connecticut State Library
John Joseph McMahon was born in Hartford on April 22, 1875. He attended St. Patrick's School. In 1890, a few months before graduation, he left school and started working. The next three years he worked as an errand boy for a Hartford clothing shop. In 1893 he was brought on as an apprentice under architect Frederick Royal Comstock working both in Hartford and New York City.
McMahon's apprentice work with Comstock ended when he was called to serve in the Spanish-American War in 1898. He enlisted before the war as a Private in the Connecticut National Guard, 1st Connecticut Infantry, Company B on April 1, 1895. He was promoted to the rank of Corporal on December 8, 1896, to Sergeant on December 7, 1897, and to 1st Sergeant on May 12, 1898.
The U.S.S. Maine on the night of February 15, 1898 exploded and sank while anchored in Spain controlled Havana harbor, Cuba. The exact cause of the explosion remains a mystery. The sinking of the Maine, along with other events, pushed the United States towards war with Spain. The United States issued a declaration of war against Spain on April 25, 1898. McMahon was mustered into United States Service on May 17, 1898.
McMahon served in Company B, First Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, Connecticut National Guard during the Spanish-American War. The First Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was assigned coastal defense duty during the war. Company B was transported by the Steamer Manhansett from Crescent Beach near Niantic to Great Gull Island, New York on June 8, 1898. The men pitched camp in an area 175 feet long by 40 feet wide as the rest of the island was being excavated for Fort Michie. On July 18, 1898 the First Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was ordered to Camp Alger, near Dunn Loring, Virginia.
Company B of the First Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was mustered out of United States Service on October 31, 1898. McMahon was honorably discharged on June 16, 1899 as a 1st Sergeant and re-enlisted as a Private with Company B on November 29, 1901. He was promoted to the following ranks in Company B, First Regiment, Connecticut National Guard: Corporal on October 1, 1902; 2nd Lieutenant on March 31, 1903; 1st Lieutenant on November 24, 1903; Captain on February 17, 1908; and Major on March 25, 1909. The First Connecticut Infantry, Connecticut National Guard was called back into United State Service on June 20, 1916 for duty on the Mexican border at Nogales, Arizona. Major McMahon commanded the 1st Battalion of the First Connecticut Infantry. The regiment was mustered out of United States Service on October 30, 1916. He transferred to the Connecticut National Guard Reserve on December 6, 1916.
McMahon was appointed Lieutenant Colonel in the First Regiment Infantry Connecticut State Guard on March 29, 1917. He resigned from the Connecticut State Guard on October 24, 1918. On October 25, 1918 McMahon was appointed Major, Quartermaster Corps, United States Army. He served as Chief of Plant Protection, Maintenance and Repair Division, Philadelphia Supply Depot. McMahon was honorably discharged on January 18, 1919. He was appointed a Major in the Quartermaster Reserve Corps (Q.M.R.C.) on March 11, 1919 and reappointed Major on March 11, 1924 to March 10, 1929. Governor Wilbur L. Cross commissioned McMahon a Colonel, Infantry, Connecticut National Guard on November 23, 1931. John J. McMahon retired as a Colonel in the Connecticut National Guard on November 23, 1931.
Veteran Association Member and Officer
John J. McMahon was a member of the First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Veteran Association, Spanish-American War - 1898. He was Secretary of the association from 1952-1954. McMahon was a member of the Department of Connecticut United Spanish War Veterans. He served as Adjutant of the department from 1925 to 1926. He was a member of the United Spanish War Veterans, Charles L. Burdett Camp No. 4 of Hartford.
After serving in the Spanish-American War McMahon returned to being an architect. He was a draftsman and associate architect in the Hartford firm of John J. Dwyer, later Dwyer & McMahon, from 1900-1911. During his time with Dwyer he helped design at least six different buildings including: St. Augustine's Church at Barry Square; St. Michael's Church; House of Good Shepherd; St. Elizabeth's House; First Administration Building for St. Francis Hospital; and the Elks Club Lodge. On October 24, 1911 Dwyer passed away. McMahon, along with Dwyer & McMahon draftsman Frank Warren Whiton, formed the architectural firm of Whiton & McMahon. The firm designed over twenty buildings in Hartford and surrounding towns including: Mount St. Joseph's Academy; City of Hartford Fire Station #3; Washington Street School Additions; Corning Building at Main Street and Asylum Street; and many other buildings. In June of 1932 McMahon and Whiton dissolved there partnership. McMahon spent the next 26 years as an independent architect designing buildings in greater Hartford. He did partner once while independent to design St. Lawrence O'Toole Church with architect Russell Hills.1
John J. McMahon was elected to the Hartford Board of Education from 1911 to 1916. McMahon, a Democrat, was elected City Alderman from Hartford's seventh ward in 1922 and served until 1926. He served on the City Board of Finance from 1925 to 1926. He was active with the Elks Club and served as a trustee of St. Augustine's Church. John J. McMahon died in Hartford on September 8, 1958 at the age of 83.
1 Joseph McMahon, "A Grandfather's Contribution to Hartford's Unique Architectural Landscape," Hartford Preservation Alliance Newsletter (Summer 2007): 3.
The papers were arranged into four series and three subseries which reflect John J. McMahon's personal life, military service, and membership in veteran associations in Connecticut. The series include Personal Papers, First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Veteran Association, Spanish-American War - 1898, Department of Connecticut United Spanish War Veterans, and Photographs. The subseries under the Department of Connecticut United Spanish War Veterans series include Correspondence with Camps, Office Files, and General Orders.
Series 1. Personal Papers, 1901-1954, includes biographical information, clippings, correspondence, national guard correspondence and orders, First Regiment Infantry history and Company B by-laws.
Series 2. First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Veteran Association, Spanish-American War - 1898, 1949-1954, consists of correspondence, reports of deaths, financial report, and rosters.
Series 3. Department of Connecticut United Spanish War Veterans, 1925-1926, contains correspondence, financial records, minutes, and rosters. The miscellaneous folder contains two pages from a book with the photograph of Company C and correspondence between a Mr. Beck and Albert Hart. The correspondence with the camps consists of letters between the various camps and department. The general orders contain printed orders from other state's departments of the United Spanish War Veterans and the national headquarters.
Series 4. Photographs, undated, contains a panorama photograph of a United States outpost along the border with Mexico.
Series 1. Personal Papers, 1901-1954
Series 2. First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Veteran Association, Spanish-American War - 1898, 1949-1954
Series 3. Department of Connecticut United Spanish War Veterans, 1925-1926
Series 4. Photographs, undated
Restrictions on Access
Restrictions on Use
See the Reproduction and Publications of State Library Collections policy.
RG 081, Department of Connecticut United Spanish War Veterans Records, Connecticut State Library.
The John J. McMahon architecture notes, located at the Connecticut Historical Society, document McMahon's career as an architect.
This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
United Spanish War Veterans. Dept. of Connecticut
Connecticut -- History, Military
Connecticut. National Guard--History
Spanish-American War, 1898 -- Connecticut -- Societies, etc.
United Spanish War Veterans
United Spanish War Veterans. Dept. of Connecticut -- Records and correspondence
United States Army. Connecticut Infantry Regiment, 1st (1898)
McMahon, John J., 1875-1958
Ross, Herbert A.
Shea, Frank E.
The John J. McMahon papers were donated by James McMahon to the State Library in 2008.
Allen Ramsey processed the papers in October and November, 2010
Connecticut Adjutant-General's Office. Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps of the United States in the Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection and China Relief Expedition, From April 2, 1898 to July 4, 1904. Hartford: Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1919. [CSL call number Conn Doc Ad44 res span]
Keller, Allan. The Spanish-American War: A Compact History. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1969. [CSL call number E715.K32]
Traxel, David. 1898: The Birth of the American Century. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. [CSL call number E711.T73 1998]
United States. Army. Connecticut Infantry Regiment, 1st (1898). First Regiment, Connecticut National Guard. 1898-1899. Official History. Outline History of the Regiment During the Spanish-American War as First Connecticut Infantry, U.S. Volunteers. Hartford: City Printing Company, 1900. [CSL call number E725.4 1st.C6 1900]
McMahon, Joseph. "A Grandfather's Contribution to Hartford's Unique Architectural Landscape." Hartford Preservation Alliance Newsletter (Summer 2007): 3.
Hartford Courant, 1875-1970.